Lisa - 2012 Graduate Program

Home state

  • Australian Capital Territory


  • Australian National University


  • Bachelor of Arts
  • Bachelor of Science


I’ve always had an interest in the natural world. At university, I majored in biological anthropology and ecology and evolution. I took a break after uni working as a retail manager. Over time, I became interested in the public service and decided that I would apply for the DSEWPaC graduate program.

I applied for the Department’s graduate program because it offers numerous opportunities to contribute towards positive environmental outcomes of national and international significance. The Department also has a wide variety of work and environmental themes to choose from! Being in the graduate program is great because it allows you to pick three unique rotations - so you can pursue your career goals and/or try something new.


First Placement—Regulatory Reform Taskforce, Heritage and Wildlife Division

My first placement was within the legislative amendments team of the Regulatory Reform Taskforce. The Taskforce is responsible for implementing the Australian Government’s environmental law reform agenda.

During my rotation I contributed towards a variety of tasks, which included reading and interpreting draft bills, identifying legislative instruments and drafting a chapter of the Explanatory Memorandum of the draft Bill. I also undertook research and training on how to develop a Human Rights Statement of Compatibility, which is a new requirement for bills being introduced to Parliament.

The work was constantly challenging and rewarding. Having no prior experience in law, I gained a lot from this rotation, such as learning about the legislative process and how to interpret legislation.

Second Placement—Aquatic Ecosystems Protection, Environmental Research Institute of the Supervising Scientist (ERISS), Supervising Scientist Division

I was lucky enough to experience an external rotation. The Supervising Scientist Division works to protect the environment from the impacts of uranium mining. This rotation provided me with valuable insights into some of the scientific work undertaken by the Department and an appreciation of what it’s like to work away from Canberra.

During this rotation I undertook fieldwork in Kakadu National Park, sampling fish and aquatic vegetation in shallow, lowland billabongs. From this work I was able to identify common aquatic plants of the Alligator Rivers Region (ARR). This information helped to inform a literature review on the role of aquatic plants in mining wetlands, with an emphasis on Eleocharis (water chestnut), a common species of the ARR and the Ranger uranium mine lease. Historically, aquatic plants have been used in mining wetlands for their ability to remove contaminants from the water, so it was important to investigate the role Eleocharis species may be playing at Ranger.

Third Placement—Great Barrier Reef Taskforce, Environmental Assessment and Compliance Division

My third rotation was in the Great Barrier Reef Taskforce. The Taskforce is responsible for delivering a comprehensive strategic assessment of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and its adjacent coastal zone.

For me, the highlight of this rotation was to conduct a stock take of existing environmental trends, the impacts of development and how effective environmental management arrangements have been in protecting matters of national environmental significance (MNES) under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999) and the outstanding universal value (OUV) of the Great Barrier Reef within the Port of Gladstone and on Curtis Island. This was a complex task involving internal liaison with other areas of the Department and external liaison with scientific experts. There was also plenty of opportunity to analyse environmental impact statements, assist in preparing briefing material and to scope approaches to assessing impacts of development on the Great Barrier Reef.

Final Placement—National Biodiversity Section, Biodiversity Policy Branch, Biodiversity Conservation Division

For my final placement, I negotiated a position in the National Biodiversity Section. Biodiversity conservation has always been important to me and I’m very grateful to be here. Our section is currently working towards implementing Australian Government and national biodiversity conservation policies such as Australia’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy 2010&2030 and Australia’s Native Vegetation Framework. This really is an exciting space to be in. To date I’ve been able to apply the skills I learnt throughout the graduate program, while developing new policy and secretariat knowledge.